Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eliza Mulligan-Doolittle

...Just you wait Henry Higgins. Just you wait.
You'll be sorry but your tears'll be too late.....>>>......

Audrey Hepburn and the latest "new Audrey Hepburn" Carey Mulligan

So it looks like the remake of 1964's Best Picture My Fair Lady is going to happen after all. Carey Mulligan will be playing Eliza Doolittle instead of Keira Knightley as previously reported. Now, this is why I don't spend hundreds of posts tracking every pre-production film the way most sites do -- well, that and the time and the lack of staff and the preference for actual movies rather than movies no one will see for another year or three -- because things are always in flux. The Carey Mulligan news is also a handy illustration of why I never trust either rumors or denials. It was less than a month ago that Mulligan said there was zero truth to the rumor.

This seems like a risky move to me. Mulligan's already got the 'new Audrey Hepburn' tag as she worked the fashions with stick thin elegance all awards season. Maybe her agents aren't worried. After all every young actress must suffer the "new so and so" thing as they come into their stardom. [tangent: There was even a time --shudder with me now -- that Entertainment Weekly tried to call Julianne Moore the new Julia Roberts. I'm like an elephant. I never forget. Could any two actresses be more different?] But it's one thing to be labelled "the next so and so". It's quite another to be labelled so and then sign up to take on one of their signature roles. It's risking direct comparison. And who wants to risk comparison to one of the greatest movie stars of all time?

I don't exactly object to My Fair Lady being remade (though I assumed it would be a non-musical version when I first heard the news) and I'm thrilled that Emma Thompson is involved. That's a sure sign that the book inbetween the classic score will be witty. In truth I'm just happy that any musical is still getting made after Nine's bombing. See, Hollywood has a way of assuming that one thing equals every other thing ("Avatar made billions. Therefore ALL movies will make billions if we convert them to 3D!") so I feared Nine's financial blood bath would spell the end of the musical resurgence despite all the musical hits that directly preceded it.

Carey & Anne & Keira, Doolittle Triplets

I have no idea if Carey Mulligan can sing or not but this is yet another situation where we have a movie musical happening and Anne Hathaway is not starring in it. What is going on here? If any single actress from Young Hollywood should be doing musicals, it's her. She's the only one who has made it completely obvious that she was born for it. And yet nothing. Still. (And I don't think they'll let her do her own singing as Judy Garland in that biopic, you know?) And you'd think Hathaway would be a total fit for Eliza. Hollywood loves to see actors repeating themselves and Hathaway has had a lot of training at Pygmalian-esque screen make-overs (The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada).

If the movie does happen (we're still early in the process mind you), I will die with curiousity waiting for Oscar to react. The original My Fair Lady was a huge Oscar sensation but for Audrey herself who wasn't even nominated, despite it being one of her three signature roles (the others obviously being "Holly Golightly" and "Princess Ann"). It's widely believed she was snubbed as misplaced karmic punishment for winning the role when the producers deemed Julie Andrews (who originated it on Broadway) unfit to sell a movie, having no previous film experience. Andrews got the last laugh becoming a huge film star that same year, winning the Oscar for Mary Poppins and chasing it with The Sound of Music, one of the biggest box office behemoths of all time.

35 comments:

Walter L. Hollmann said...

How long until they announce Judi Dench as Mrs. Higgins? That's one piece of casting that seems inevitable.

gabrieloak said...

I never thought of Eliza as one of Hepburn's signature roles. It's nothing like her parts in Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Nun's Story, Two for the Road. The problem with Hepburn in My Fair Lady is that she was miscast.

I'm expecting this new My Fair Lady to be very different from the Cukor version. Especially because Emma Thompson is tied to this.

Anonymous said...

It's supposed to be a musical Keira dropped out. Anne was considered but they were looking for a British person which is good because I would not want to hear Anne struggling with a Cockney accent.

Alas they have hyped up Carey to infinity and beyond. Her performance in An Education was just okay.

Danielle said...

If anyone were to suffer for taking this role, it would be Keira. Of course there will be those who don't want this to be remade at all, but they had an acute nastiness toward Keira. No secret I'm a Keira fan, so it does peeve me that the producers strung her along for long and never gave her the part -- what exactly were they questioning? She was supposedly taking singing lessons and we know she can do Cockney well (Pure). And she'd have helped with the box office (I don't think Carey will be as successful in that arena.) Oh well, maybe she'll have dodged a bullet (it's had quite a few director changes as well, which isn't a good thing). Or she'll miss out on a chance for more Oscar glory. We'll see. The one shining light in this adaptation is Thompson, and I wish Keira could have worked with her. With The Talking Cure on the horizon, I don't think she's too worried, though.

I do like Carey, I'm just not as crazed for her as others are. And of course part of me is angered that she snatched what should have been Keira's role.

Danielle said...

Oh, and I don't blame Carey for taking this role - she'll be working with a great cast/crew and it's a musical! Plus young actresses want to grab the best roles they can. I'm only a bit surprised because I remember her saying somewhere she wants to be her own actress, but taking this role sort of belies that (especially after a few critics made those comparisons with Hepburn.... she's forcing herself to live up to her glory, which could definitely come back to bite her in the butt).

Cluster Funk said...

Nathaniel, I remember an article in Premiere Magazine, circa spring of '95, regarding the next Julia Roberts. This was right after Julia Ormond co-starred in Legends of the Fall and nabbed the coveted title role in that ill-fated Sabrina remake. Premiere actually proffered Marisa Tomei, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ormond as possible successors, which sounds ridiculous in retrospect.

Danielle said...

Haha, uh oh Nathaniel: looks like you may have proven your point. Here's an interview with Carey (dated yesterday), and the interviewer asks her directly about Thompson saying she is set to play Eliza.... http://www.collider.com/2010/03/25/carey-mulligan-interview-talks-my-fair-lady-effie-wall-street-2-never-let-me-go-working-for-mark-romanek-and-a-lot-more/

Apparently it's still on the rocks.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I think Eliza is one of Hepburn's signature roles only to people who don't really look at movies too closely. Surely everyone else would like to forget that My Fair Lady ever happened to anyone, much less Hepburn. (And let's not even bring up her 'Cockney' accent or the fact that Ms. Marni Nixon had to fill in for the crucial bits.)

Bryan said...

I don't see Carey being hurt by this. I think it'll only hurt if she bombs, and I don't see that happening. Besides, the "she's the next so-and-so" buzz has to be killed eventually, as will surely happen if she takes this role and turns out to be a fresh, original actress (surprise?).

It's like how I'm sure when Kate Winslet debuted in Heavenly Creatures, people were jumping to declare her the next ____. Now that she's important enough, she gets to be simply, Kate Winslet.

The Julia Roberts/Julianne Moore/Marisa Tomei comparisons illustrate how desperate and silly the "next so-and-so" exclamations are.

Danielle said...

If anything, the movie may not work... but I can't see Carey failing. She's clearly talented, and while we don't know if she can sing, I don't think they would cast her if she didn't have at least a decent voice. If she happens to just simply do okay, I can see people making some snarky comments... but as she said in her interview above, remakes are always being remade. And I can see this adaptation (if it ever gets off the ground) being quite different from the original My Fair Lady.

James T said...

Didn't anyone read Danielle's link? Thompson said Mulligan was attached when it hadn't happen? Weird.

EricY said...

I'm so tired of hearing Mulligan's name. This news to me is far from exciting...oooh the next Audrey, ooh we're gonna remake My Fair Lady, hmmmm who SHALL we cast?!!! Her performance in an Education is okay, NOT great. Yes, I guess the industry is dying for a young AND SKINNY actress who can act. In a sea of emaciated but untalented, she comes close, so tag she's IT...However, I honestly think her hype will be short lived.

anahita said...

I really wanted Keira to play Eliza, because I think she's an amazing actress and would have fitted the role - plus it's different than anything she's done in a while, because it requires quite a lot of comic timing. Still, I love Carey too, so I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm quite curious as to who will play Higgins. For some reason I want Hugh Laurie, although that may just be 'cos I adore him so. I think the whole thing would have been far more interesting if they'd made a film of Pygmalion itself. It wouldn't be a remake of such a classic film, and would give them more freedom over casting and such x

cal roth said...

Hepburn was only miscast for the cockney part, but she was an absolutely perfect lady when the movie ends. Not even Julie Andrews could have done the washed up Eliza that classy.

I think they should cast Jeremy Irons was Mr. Higgins. A friend of mine saw his performance on stage and said he was better than Rex Harrison!

I don't think that is a samart move for Mulligan, buy, hey, could it be a new A Star is Born, that received Oscar attention in its three versions?

Will said...

''How long until they announce Judi Dench as Mrs. Higgins? That's one piece of casting that seems inevitable.''

I love Dame Judi, God bless her heart, but why should she play every role over 70?
Angela Lansbury would be perfect as Mrs. Higgins.
Colin Firth or Ralph Fiennes must play Henry Higgins.

NATHANIEL R said...

Y Kant -- wow. so i guess i'm someone who doesn't look at movies closely and everyone else does (?) interesting. thanks for the schooling.

Danielle -- agreed that Thompson is the primary (only?) reason to be excited.

Chris Na Taraja said...

do we need another MY FAIR LADY, didn't we learn from making MUSIC MAN with Mathew Broderick!?

OMG I just watched this interview with Meryl Streep, which you all must watch thru to the end to get a final line about her thoughts about appearing as catwoman. enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDhLZiHKQi0&feature=fvw

Ashley said...

I was hoping they'd get someone else to play Eliza.:( I'm getting tired of Carey Mulligan,and I'm not someone who thinks she a bad actress. I hope that other young "It Girl" Oscar nominees like Ellen Page and Anna Kendrick can get roles to help them get their 2nd nods. I REALLY hope she doesn't get the role in the US remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That role has Ellen Page's name written all over it, and she is in DESPERATE need of better roles right now.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Joy. I sure wish Emma Thompson wrote more.

NoNo said...

I can't be the only one tired of every brunette actress being compared to Ms. Hepburn, Can I? It's getting to be so uninspiring.

@Ashley
I feel like Anna Kendrick got overshadowed by EVERYONE this past season. Carey, Gabby, Twilight, and of course Mo'nique. She really didn't get a lot of shine this year.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Agreed, Will, but casting directors appear to only have eyes for Dench. I, for one, would like to see Joan Plowright or Geraldine McEwan as either Mrs. Higgins or Mrs. Eynsford-Hill.

Ashley said...

NoNo,

I'm glad you noticed that too!!! Anna Kendrick really took the back seat to George Clooney, Carey Mulligan, and Gabby Sidibe in terms of attention. All people seemed to ask her was how was it working with Robert Pattinson and George Clooney.

Now that I think about it, Anna probably could have been cast as Eliza. She has singing experience with movies like Camp, and she was on Broadway. She's a Tony nominee!! She'd only have to work on the accent.

RobUK said...

Wow, Martine McCutcheon will be spitting feathers that this didn't get the green light seven years ago after she had some semblance of momentum from Love Actually, and after she'd recently won an Olivier Award for the role.

I have no issue with a remake either, and I'm not precious about casting as I think the bar is set low. To my mind Hepburn is on the verge of outright awful in the original production. Whenever you hear the original Julie Andrews vocal you just sigh at what could (and should) have been. And whenever Hepburn goes: "AAaaaawwww" your eyeballs just hit the roof of your eye sockets.

I can see Keira fitting perfectly into the role outside of the singing, but I find it more of a stretch imagining Carey.

However, the original film is quite laboured at times, so it will be good for it to have a little more energy thrown at it.

Dell said...

Now Carey's saying that she hasn't been offered anything yet. But I'd say grab this role and run with it. Wonder if she can sing though. Even so, I'd be there for a non-musical adaptation of this too.

Glenn said...

I think what we're all forgetting is that the Cukor version isn't that good. It's 170 incredibly long minutes. Hopefully the remake can cut that down, if nothing else.

gabrieloak said...

I saw Jeremy Irons in A Little Night Music on stage and he can barely carry a tune. So he wouldn't work in My Fair Lady.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Oh Nathaniel, don't be so sensitive - I was only 20% serious with that statement. The important part of it was that the world needs to take whatever measures necessary to retrospectively wipe that thing from Hepburn's filmography. I adore the woman, but even I get ill watching her as Eliza Doolittle.

I suppose you can argue that it's a signature role in that it's one of her most famous roles - but that fame is largely based on what outfits she's wearing and how often a movie gets repeated on Sunday afternoon television. But if we're talking signature role in terms of most representative performance, or most indelible, dear God, let's disregard this one.

I feel similarly about the place that My Fair Lady hogs up in the great George Cukor's filmography - how apt that the one time he doesn't bring out the best in his leading lady (and instead manages to bring out the shrill, searing worst) is the one time he gets an Oscar. And beats Stanley Kubrick (at his best) to boot. Ah, Ampass..

NATHANIEL R said...

y kant... point taken. I don't think it's her best work either but i think if you ask people to name Audrey Hepburn's famous roles it's going to come up immediately after roman holiday and breakfast at tiffany's. very very very famous (and yes, the costumes have a lot to do with that)

NATHANIEL R said...

gabrieloak -- well the bar is set super low there since Rex Harrison talked through all his songs. I'm sure they won't care.

we've learned over and over again that Hollywood doesn't think vocal ability matters to the success of musicals. i wish they'd look at dreamgirls and hairspray or any of julie andrews famous musicals and notice that singing ability can make movie moments quite magical.

hell, they'd only have to look at NINE and see how mesmerizing Marion Cotillard was and that that had a lot to do with being the best singer.

Kev said...

Kinda hoped that Keira would have landed this instead. But still, which Hugh does Emma want in this -- Grant or Laurie? That is the question. (But Carey's great too -- you should have won for "An Education"!!!)

gabrieloak said...

Though Harrison wasn't a great singer he did have a sense for carrying a tune and there was music in the way he spoke-sang. And his singing of the Lerner-Lane score was quite affecting.

Colin Firth can obviously sing from listening to his short song in Mamma Mia, while Pierce Brosnan cannot.
You don't need an operatic singer for Higgins, but you still need someone with some sense of musicality.

I own a recording of My Fair Lady with Bob Hoskins trying to sing the Stanley Holloway role and he is just awful.

gabrieloak said...

I want to add that I'm excited about this project if it happens. My Fair Lady is a great musical and the Cukor version never did it justice. It's just so slow and stage bound and the Marni Nixon dubbing ruined Hepburn's performance. I hope someone like Bill Condon takes it on. Just not Rob Marshall who doesn't believe actors should sing to each other.

But yes, I'm all for real singers in musical films. Take a look at all the great musical films and those actors can sing. Or if you're going dub, find the right voices. Watch some Jacques Demy movies for lessons.

Anonymous said...

Anne Hathaway should make a movie soon...I'm still rooting for her making a WICKED movie version

mirko

Jamie said...

I'm excited.

Anonymous said...

I can not belive that Audrey didn't get a nomination for My Fair Lady. That gets me so mad. I don't care what other people say, she is great in it. So lovely, so funny, so endering. You empathize with the character of Eliza, because of Hepburns interpretetion. I remember the scene in which she arrives to the Higgins mannor, all dirty and naive. It's unique. She kept saying "I'm a good girl I am" while Harrison frightened her. Hepburn insisted in doing her own singing, and at the begining of the production she was going to, but the producers decided her voice wasn't good enough, and went for Nixon. Never the less, she gave one of her best works. A great film and a superb performance.